The Griffin family at Beacon Lodge

The Sep 1939 register helps us understand who was living and working at Beacon Lodge in the 1930’s. It shows that up at the remote lodge, Emma Griffin, the widow of William Henry Griffin, was still in residence. She was born on 16 Aug 1883 making her 56 and is described as ‘Caretaker’. Living with her were Clifford Jones , a 16 yr old ‘farm worker’ and Beatrice Burton , a 15 yr old ‘domestic servant’

Down by Llangunllo railway station, Audrey Griffin, Emma’s daughter is recorded as living with her husband. She had married Charlie Hammond in Beguildy on 24 Apr 1935. He was son of a Station Master and became the resident signalman at the station.

The Downing family, in particular William Edmund Downing (b 1849), relied on Emma to look after the house and maintain provisions and livestock in this remote location. At the time of this census, he was at the family home in Hagley and was to die there aged 90 on 3 Oct, 1939. It is believed Emma remained as Caretaker on the Lodge or Farm until it was sold some four years later.

William Henry Griffin was originally from Aston, Birmingham and had been a fireman. It is possible that William Edmund Downing was instrumental in bringing him and his family from Birmingham to Radnorshire to look after the shooting lodge that the Downings had recently acquired. We know at some point that the lodge was split in two – essentially the farm set up for the Griffins to earn some kind of living as a high hill farm and the lodge for occasional Downing visits, notably on Aug 12 each year.

William Henry Griffin is recorded as dying with the given address as Beacon Lodge, Beguildy on 15 Mar 1932, aged 51 years. At that time Audrey would have been 24 years of age. She was clearly remembered by Pamela Downing, who regularly visited her grandfather at Beacon Lodge on family visits,

On Audrey’s marriage certificate William is described as a ‘farmer (deceased)’. Audrey’s brother Francis also continued to live in the area. He had married Charlie’s sister in 1933.

Audrey and Charlie Hammond have the given address as  2 Station House in Llangunllo. This is both the address in the Sep 1939 register and also the address used in later correspondence in the 1960’s. The ‘Station House’ is a standalone semi detached cottage, presumably built for the railway, next to the station, over a mile north of the village of Llangunllo itself.

Two letters from Audrey Griffin to Molly Downing dated 19 Dec 1965 and 20 Dec 1966

Two letters from Audrey Griffin to Molly Downing dated 19 Dec 1965 and 20 Dec 1966

When Emma Griffin died on 10 Jan 1961 the probate record indicates that she was living with her daughter at Llangunllo station.

Audrey Hammond herself died on 2 Jul 1987 in Knighton.

Sources and Notes

  • Knighton and Beguildy, Radnorshire, Parish Registers.
  • Two ‘Christmas’ letters from Audrey to Molly Downing, the daughter in law of William Edmund Downing,  have survived (1965 and 1966). They show the families continued to keep in touch. In one interesting point in the letter dated Sun 19 Dec 1965, Audrey relates how Llangunllo station had closed on 2 Oct resulting in her husband Charlie having to go to work in Knighton until it too closed  on Dec 11. Audrey describes this as ‘wholesale slaughter’ no staff at any station. It indeed marked the end of an era and very much  the final chapter at Beacon Lodge, that was in serious ruin by that date.
  • The 1921 census shows that the family William, Emma, Audrey and her brother were still living in Oldbury, near Smethwick. So they did not move to Wales until after that date
Last updated on 5 December 2023 by JJ Morgan